Strickland said he was well received on the presidential campaign in 2004 and he likes his chances to become the first Democratic governor since Dick Celeste in 1990 because he has been successful in traditionally Republican counties.
“This is not a Don Quixote type of effort,” said Strickland, who first opted not to run before changing his mind. “I'm confident that I can win this primary and the general election. I'm feeling quite optimistic.”
Strickland said he believed the political climate is ripe for a Democrat to take back the governor's office. He criticized the Republicans and blamed them for the state's poor financial condition. Strickland noted the Republicans control the governor's office, the Ohio Senate, the Ohio House and the Ohio Supreme Court. “It's not just the governor's office, it's the auditor, attorney general and secretary of state offices,” he said. “All of these folks who are wanting to succeed Gov. Taft are part of the same failed administration.”
Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, Attorney General Jim Petro and Auditor Betty Montgomery are the leading contenders for the Republican nomination. Some Republicans are calling for former Westerville congressman John Kasich to also run.
Strickland most imposing competitor, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, announced on Nov. 30 he was withdrawing from the race. Former state representative Bryan Flannery is the only other Democrat who has announced he will seek the Democratic nomination.
There are other Democrats who are considering running.
Ohio Sen. and 2004 U.S. Senate candidate Eric Fingerhut told the Portsmouth Daily Times in November that he is giving consideration to running and will make a decision by early 2006.
Former Cincinnati Mayor Jerry Springer, the host of the “Jerry Springer Show” and now a radio talk show host, had considered running for the office but chose not to.
The filing deadline for the May primary is Feb. 16.
Strickland said he is taking nothing for granted and will continue to reach out to people across the state, seek endorsements from organizations and county parties and raise campaign funds.
Strickland has gotten the endorsement from labor unions including American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association AFSCME Local 11 and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees.
“AFSCME represents literally thousands and thousands of Ohioans,” Strickland said. “So I think this is a very significant endorsement.”
Strickland is hoping the endorsements give him an edge over other candidates running for the governorship.
“I think it makes it difficult to compete against me, that's one of the reasons it is so import to get these endorsements,” he said. “I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but if you take this endorsement along with the construction trade endorsement and the fact that 22 county organizations and over half of the Democrats in the House caucus and five Democratic state senators have endorsed me, I'm very happy and thankful with the support I'm getting.”
Strickland said his campaign is going well so far.
“But as they say in southern Ohio, you shouldn't count your chickens before they hatch. I'm not taking anything for granted,” he said.
Strickland is the congressional representative for Ohio's 6th District, which consists of Appalachian counties that run from eastern Scioto County along the Ohio River to Mahoning County.